Cheapskates Getting Cheaper As Obamanomy, Er... Economy Worsens

By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO, AP Retail Writer Anne D'innocenzio, Ap Retail Writer – Tue Mar 10, 4:29 pm ET AP

NEW YORK – Amy VanDeventer has always been a cheapskate. The recession is taking her to new extremes.

Before the economy tanked, she was still wearing maternity clothes from her last pregnancy, clipping coupons and using hand-me-downs to dress her daughters, ages 2 and 3. Now, she's salvaging bagel scraps left on their plates for pizza toppings and cutting lotion bottles in half so she can scrape out the last drops.

"I was already cheap," said VanDeventer, a 36-year-old mortgage loan underwriter from Broomfield, Colo. "Now I am neurotic about it."

If you thought those cheapskate friends and relatives couldn't pinch pennies any tighter, think again. The recession is making tightwads like VanDeventer cut back even more. They're going way beyond sharpening their coupon scissors, replacing already cheap store-brand fabric softener with vinegar and even making their own detergent. VanDeventer was drying her hair in front of a fan after her portable hair dryer broke — until her friends bought her a new one.

The recession is radically changing behavior among many different types of people, from the Wall Street bankers who are now waltzing into Wal-Mart for the first time to buy their groceries to teens who are now thumbing through the piles of status jeans at secondhand shops to save money. And experts say that such behavior could linger long after the economy recovers.

What surprises frugality bloggers is that many cheapskates such as VanDeventer haven't lost their jobs and are not in danger of losing their homes. Many have stashed a good chunk of cash away. But the economic uncertainty is catapulting them to new levels of thriftiness.

"I do it out of fear because I would rather put that money in the bank or purchase something we really need," said VanDeventer, who now saves about 50 percent of her take-home pay, up from 25 percent before the recession began more than a year ago.

The trend is disturbing for merchants, who are already reeling from the sharp pullback by spenders. Such extreme miserly behavior could only worsen the decline in consumer spending.

Excerpt. Read the rest here.

I've always been a bit of a cheapskate myself. My wife and I have tightened our belts a little more as well, which I didn't think was possible. We are making our own bread, buying clothes from discount merchants like Ross, or even second hand. We price match, use coupons, and buy off brands at Walmart. We rent DVD's from Red Box instead of going out to the movies. If we go out to eat, we go to a restaurant we have a coupon for, or we will share an entree. All little things, but it adds up.

Still, we are aware that 70% of the GDP is consumer spending, and we are aware that if retail spending dries up, so will our economy. So, as a result we are still doing our best to spend money. We still go out to eat, we still shop, we still try and spend some money out there. I think we should all try and do the same; be smart with our money, but do enough to support our economy.


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